How To Remove Pin Bones from Salmon Fillets

About 5 years ago I was faced with a predicament.  The predicament was the “we eat a lot of Salmon and I don’t want my kids choking on bones” predicament.  It used to stress me out to the point that I didn’t even want to feed them Salmon.  Of course this wouldn’t work in that we put up and eat about 50 Salmon per year, so off I went in pursuit of the solution that many fine restaurants use in removing salmon pin bones from their Salmon.

I’m not exactly sure what I was doing wrong, but the fact that this article is not titled “using needle nosed pliers to remove pin bones from Salmon” is going to be your first indication that their method didn’t work out so well for me.  It clearly works for them, but with my lack of patience, or simple lack of free time, I quickly found out that I wasn’t going to individually pull pin bones with needle nosed pliers and call it a success.

A few months went by and one day I decided I was going to try cutting them out.  The attempt didn’t turn out perfect, but it was good enough to want to try it again.  My kids woofed it down and my wife and I enjoyed our plates of fish a little more.

I continued on and with few more trys on some later fish, and began to feel pretty comfortable getting the strip of pin bones out without loosing a bunch of meat.

The pin bones of a Salmon run 2/3 the length of the fish beginning at the gill plate.  With a filleted side, you can see the points of the pin bones about a third of the way between the spine and the top of the fish.  The pin bones run at about a 45 degree angle towards the top of the fish and until you get comfortable with the angle take it slow.  Each fish is slightly different, but you’ll get the jist of the process after just a few fish.

The end result has turned out great in being able to feed my kids Salmon that I know are free of bones.  But surprisingly, my wife and I, as well as many that we’ve shared our fish with also have enjoyed the nice portions free of the tongue tying slivers of hardened calcium that most of us have simply learned to deal with.  Their removal makes it nice to be able to enjoy a meal without picking through it and now I understand why 5 star restaurants go to the hassle.

Check out the pictorial below and give it a try.

Before we remove the pin bones, you’re going to need to have filleted your Salmon.  If that’s a new concept, you might want to check out the tutorial:  How to Fillet a Salmon.

First you’re going to have to fillet and remove the rib bones of your Salmon.  Lay the fillett out and you’ll see the line of pin bones between where the spine used to run and the top of the fish.

how to remove salmon pin bones












Make your first cut along the top side of the lenth of the pin bones.  Go slow and allow the pin bones to guide your knife to the appropriate angle.  A couple more attempts on future fish and you’ll have it for good.

how to remove salmon pin bones














Make another cut to the under side or spine side of the pin bones. Try to make this cut as tight to the row of bones as possible.

how to remove salmon pin bones 3












The pin bones shoud now pull right out.

how to remove salmon pin bones











If all went well, you lost very little meat and will enjoy and great dinner free of pin bones.  Bon Apetite!

how to remove salmon pin bones












Lance Fisher is a fishing guide in Oregon and Washington as well as the host of The NW Outdoor Show. To connect with Lance feel free to follow him on his facebook page.